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Biophysics of Proteins and Biomimetic Membranes

Group Members

  • Brigita Urbanc, PhD
  • Matthew Mawhinney, PhD candidate
  • Derya Meral, PhD candidate
  • Matthew Voelker, PhD candidate
  • Matjaz Zganec, PhD candidate


The core research focus of the group led by Brigita Urbanc, PhD is folding mechanisms and pathways of assembly of proteins such as: amyloid beta-protein and tau-protein associated with Alzheimer's disease; alpha-synuclein implicated in Parkinson's disease; sickle hemoglobin causing sickle-cell dementia; and human spastin involved in hereditary spastic paraplegia. Further research topics include but are not limited to interactions of amyloid-forming proteins with biomimetic membranes, membrane receptors, and membrane proteins. Multiscale computational approaches include fast and efficient discrete molecular dynamics (DMD) combined with coarse-grained protein models in implicit solvent as well as all-atom molecular dynamics (MD) in explicit solvent. Experimental techniques that will be applied are photo-induced, cross-linking of unmodified proteins (PICUP) combined with gel electrophoresis (SDS-PAGE) for studying size distribution of small assemblies at the early stages of protein aggregation and surface plasmon field-enhanced fluorescence spectroscopy (SPFS) to study interactions between proteins and biomimetic membranes.

Research Links